Although sitting meditation is deemed the best way to settle a scattered mind and cultivate meditative concentration, one cannot sit all the time. Therefore, Buddhist teachers have developed techniques that allow one to meditate while engaged in other sorts of physical activity as well–walking, standing still, lying down, doing manual labor, and so forth. Among them, Buddhist practitioners most often use walking meditation in conjunction with seated meditation. When engaged in extended meditation retreats, interspersing walking meditation with extended periods of sitting helps to prevent the mediator’s legs from becoming stiff or fatigued. It can also be used to counteract drowsiness or collect a scattered mind.


In slow-walking, the torso should be erect and alert, and the head perpendicular, just as in seated meditation. The entire body should move in perfect unison and concentration–as a single entity. Body and mind should be focused on the bal of the leading fot. The mind should not be allowed to wander upward. Thos with each step that is taken, your attenetion and center of gravity should shift with unbroken continuity from one foot to the other, then back again.

The right hand is rolled into a loose fist, and the left hand wrapped gently, yet securely around it. The two should be extended slightly outward from the body, in a position even with the bottom of the rib cage. The walking pace should be slow and measured, with each step being no more than a half or full foot’s length in measure. The eyes should be partially closed and directed about a 45 degree angle toward the floor in front of the mediator, just as in seated meditation. If space is restricted, slow-walking may be performed by pacing back and forth along a straight line, or in a clockwise fashion (right shoulder facing the center) around the perimeter of the room.


Another walking exercise that is useful for alleviating leg pain and promoting harmony of body and mind is fast-walking. In Chan meditation halls, this is called “running the incense” (paoxiang). If outdoors or in a large facility, meditators may walk in a straight line. In a meditation hall, where space is limited, walking clockwise in a circle (right shoulder facing the center) is the accepted procedure. If practicing a group, people who are old and weaker may walk in smaller circles in the center of the room, while stronger people may walk around them at a more vigorous clip. The speed should start at a moderate pace and steadily increase as the walking proceeds. Apart from the sensation of walking ever faster, there should be no other thoughts in your mind. Just walk! This is an excellent method for alleviating tensions and focusing the mind when you are tired and sore.

Natural Walking

Keep your arms down and move naturally. Step forward naturally as well. Clearly be aware of the sensation of your steps. Clearly be aware of the sensation of your body moving forward. Keep your mind relaxed. Only be aware of the sensation of the movements of your body and feet.

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